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My Useless Yet Strangely Interesting Psychic Powers July 18, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General.
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Earlier today I thought of comedian/actor Art Metrano for no apparent reason. I was working on some stuff and reading about investment techniques.

It was totally random for me to be thinking about him (Sorry, Art) and nothing I’d watched in recent days/weeks/months featured him.

He just popped into my mind somehow. Didn’t know why, just kept thinking and eventually the strange tracks of my mind went elsewhere, maybe even towards what I was actually working on at the time.

And then tonight, he turned up in a small guest role on a rerun of WKRP I just watched.

It also featured Tom Dreesen, Tim Reid’s old stand-up partner. I’d watched a youtube vid of Dreesen telling a Sinatra story earlier today.

Some guys think about girls. Some psychics solve murder cases or hit the lottery.

I predict Art Metrano & Tom Dreesen rerun appearances.

This kind of crap happens to me all the time. It’s actually part of what inspired the Wagstaff detective books.

Should I set up a TV monitor on a street corner and put down a hat for contributions as I predict the next Burt Mustin appearance?

NO WAIT!!!! I’M HAVING A VISION!!!! IT’S OLAN SOULE!!!!

Or perhaps I should pitch myself to Marvel as their new star, the superhero with the most useless power ever?

Well, unless the Avengers want to know what’s good on TV tonight.

 

 

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Baseball Card Of The Day, All Star Break Edition: 1993 Craig Lefferts July 18, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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Time for a break from baseball.

So why not pour yourself a cold one?

Craig Lefferts pitched for six teams in twelve seasons, starting and relieving as an all purpose work horse. He appeared in 696 games and holds the distinction of being the last pitcher to hit a walk-off home run, all the way back in 1986.

Don’t know about you, but I hope that’s bourbon and not Gatorade in that cup. That’d make this a true “action” card.

L’chaim Craig!

Regular baseball resumes Friday. And how ‘BOUT them Yankees?

Another Wonderful Movie Website July 12, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Movies, Writing.
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Go check out Pre-Code.com, a nice site filled with reviews & material on all sorts of pre-production code Hollywood material.

I landed on it while reading about an old Wheeler & Woolsey comedy, Diplomaniacs, which I just sat through.

And as always, they made me appreciate the Marx Brothers even more.

But check out all the material on Pre-Code.com. I might vary in opinion with the reviews, of course, but this guy’s stuff is thorough, detailed and extremely well designed and illustrated. It’s a great place for obscure movie tips.

Summer of Movies: Some ’70s Made-For-TV Youtube Fare July 10, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Movies.
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A hearty thank-you and a Derek Jeter gift basket for all the movie nerds who digitized old VHS off-the-air recordings of otherwise unavailable 1970s material and uploaded it to youtube.

There’s a ton of the stuff on there. I’ve only begun to fend my way through it. I’m trying to focus on stuff I’ve never seen, while maybe throwing in a repeated viewing of some fond memory here and there, to maintain some balance.

So I won’t be discussing the big 1970s TV movie titles that spring to most minds whenever the genre is mentioned – no Duel, or Trilogy of Terror, or Satan’s Triangle, or Bad Ronald or Killdozer… at least not YET, since a lot of those are on youtube as well. The majority come from the ABC Movie of the Week series, a 90 minute weekly slot filled by various TV production factories of the day – Universal, Aaron Spelling, etc. Here’s a site that lists ’em all, from 1969 to 1975.

Hell, I’m showing Duel for a class next year. It’s still one of Spielberg’s best.

And battling that lil’ cannibal™ doll was certainly Karen Black’s best. But let’s get to a handful of old TV films I screened recently, most of which are worth checking out.

In Broad Daylight (1971) stars Richard Boone as a recently blinded actor who plots to kill his cheatin’ wife (Stella Stevens) and pin the murder on her lover. In order to pull off the plot, he has to work the entire caper after learning how to independently move around Los Angeles now that he’s blind. Susanne Pleshette plays his counselor, John Marley plays the cop. This one plays out like a really good Alfred Hitchcock hour, and it’s set up in a way that makes you root for Boone to get away with it. (more…)

I Am Always Right About Everything July 10, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General.
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A month ago I posted my theory that the IHOP name change was a publicity scam, and less than a month later, they have admitted as such.

It was all a stunt to promote their burgers.

ALWAYS TRUST MY PREDICTIONS!

EXCEPT when it comes to college football betting, pro football betting, horse racing picks & stock picks if I decide to start posting those to help you lose money.

I also had Carrot Top predicted for the Supreme Court, and flew all the way to London to bet it, putting up my house and everything  I own. I also bought a first class ticket at the last minute figuring I’d make the money back on the pick. Probably a bad idea.

BUT EVERYTHING ELSE…. man, it’s just GOLD!

 

 

Disturbing Quotation Marks For Today July 9, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General.
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I’m ready to order a few pounds of tongue. You?

For Those Wonderful Kitties Who Had A Good Week July 8, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cats.
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In case you missed the good news

Summer Of Movies: Youtube Noir July 7, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Movies.
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If you’re a B-movie fan like me, youtube is a wonderful thing. Tons of old obscure movies reside there – many of ’em in the public domain, many more in what I like to refer to as “copyright defensive indifference,” since whatever level of piracy exists in their free access is something no obscure rights holder knows and/or cares about.

This summer, I’ve binged on two categories of films you can’t really find anywhere else – minor noirs too obscure for TCM and the like, and old 1970s era TV movies of the week, which I’ll review in some upcoming posts.

Let’s start with some noir, ranging from the very good to the, well, merely okay.

Pushover (1954) features Fred MacMurray as a cop assigned to woo gangster moll Kim Novak (in her film debut), enough to find out where her bank robbin’ boyfriend and the stolen money is. Borrowing a lot from Double Indemnity, MacMurray plays a guy bored & stuck in his own life, this time a cop and not an insurance salesman. While he and his partners set up a peeping tom stakeout of Novak’s apartment, MacMurray plots with Novak to trap her gangster boyfriend and run off with the money themselves. Philip Carey plays his bachelor-for-life partner who then peeps on neighbor Dorothy Malone, back in her brunette good girl days, and his subsequent flirting with her drives other elements of the plot. This one wasn’t bad – if not for MacMurray’s casting, I doubt I’d’ve made the Double Indemnity comparisons. He always plays a good sullen weasel, and Novak makes a good femme fatale. Usually in any sort of plot-counterplot crime or caper films, the degree of believability  in either the plan or the way in which the plan inevitably collapses is key to the success of the film. In something like Kubrick’s The Killing, the mechanics of the plan make up the entire film, and it’s all undone by the wrong choice of a cheap suitcase. The Killing still works despite the character making that mistake – unlike what happens in Plunder Road or The Chase, which I’ll discuss later. In Pushover, the unraveling of MacMurray’s game is handled very well, without any feelings of movies that are forced simply to wrap up the plot. So, this one is pretty good. (more…)

Summer of Movies: The Incredibles II (2018) – See It For The Short! July 3, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Movies.
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It’s gotten to the point where I only go out to the theater once a year or so. Used to go all the time. No more.

The experience just sucks. What else can I say? Bombarded with ads, trailers for some of the most God-awful looking drek, one after another, like body blows. People on their stupid omnipresent phones. Endless onscreen interactive wifi bullshit for all those God damn omnipresent phones.

Get off my lawn, I know.

Anyway, I ventured out to see a film I figured I’d like a lot, Incredibles 2. I thought the first one was wonderful, one of the best cartoons and flat out one of the best films of the last decade, really.

The sequel? Well, I liked it, but it’s nowhere near as good as the first one. How could it be, when the first one seemed so original at the time, a more comical version of “Watchmen,” really, with a phony universe of superheroes who’d been banned by society.

But in the years since the first film, I think we (especially me) have been inundated and overdosed on superheroes. Too many movies made from too many comic books, and even too many parody versions of the superhero genre like Venture Brothers and the like filling up the pop culture. So an Incredibles II has that uphill battle to wage – how can it deliver the familiarity of the original without seeming like yet another rehash of a cultural zeitgeist that’s turned into a flood?

Well, for one thing, the animation is pretty impressive. The sophistication of the computer animation used keeps getting better and better, and the object rendering, motion, and moving camera illusions are amazing to see.

But as far as story, I thought it fell short. A lot of it is a rehash of the first film, where much of the plot revolves around arguments over the necessity of superheroes and the like. And Incredibles II spends the majority of its screentime on two parallel stories – one with Mr. Incredible home with Jack-Jack the baby discovering his powers, the other with Elastagirl out saving the world with a publicity campaign designed to decriminalize superheroes. The schizo nature of this set-up makes up the bulk of the movie – we really don’t get a mesh of the two plots until good ol’ act 3, basically the final half hour, when the family comes together to save the day.

While I liked it and was entertained, my first reaction was that it wasn’t in the same league as the first one, and the obvious set-up for three, four and whatever else Disney wants to milk this thing to death the way they do with everything else made me simply sigh. I mean, you KNOW Brad Bird will move on to other stuff and we’ll get THE FORMULA from THE ANOINTED FRANCHISE SUCCESSOR like with every friggin thing else.

I’ve liked a lot of Bird’s work, from Iron Giant to Ratatouille. I wonder if he only made this one to secure deals for other stuff, to be honest. Who knows.

BUT – I can STRONGLY recommend and praise TO THE RAFTERS the Pixar short shown with it, the absolutely wonderful “Bao,” Domee Shi’s brilliant ode to mothers & sons. Again, the computer animation is astonishing, with character design being properly “cartoony” and universe objects (especially food in this one) looking amazingly real. But the simple story, told without dialogue, about a mom dealing with her son growing up is handled brilliantly, cleverly and humorously. Really hit home to see the difference between something special like “Bao” and then something that was basically well-designed calculated entertainment right after. Anyhoo,  it’ll be interesting to see if Shi gets to do a feature at some point. Here’s hopin’.

And now, back home, to my safe little CAVE to watch more old crap. But I’ll only briefly mention the crap and focus more on some nice discoveries on youtube for the next installment.

Gone Hollywood July 1, 2018

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The ESPN ribbon under the Yankee/Red Sox game I’m watching keeps flashing the breaking news that LeBron James has signed with the LA Lakers.

4 years, 154 million. Magic Johnson ain’t screwing around.

I scoffed at the endless speculation over this all during last season, and I’ll admit I’m a little surprised. Yeah, he has a house out here and is clearly interested in tv/movie production. But he’s already a national brand and coulda handled that from anywhere. I saw him staying in the east, or even with Cleveland for another year.

But there we are.

We’ll hear plenty how if he manages to win a championship with the current mostly young Laker team, after taking two other teams to championships previously.. how THIS PROVES IT!!!!! he’s better than Jordan, bla bla bla.

I’m sure we can assume a Golden State/LA Laker western conference playoff battle, perhaps even the conference final, I’m sure all the fans will go for that. And then, once LeBron and his new team manage to conquer Golden State, imagine the irony when they lose to the Celtics in the finals overall. (more…)